We have all been there. One day you look in the mirror and you feel fabulous, the next day you glance towards the same reflection and you feel fat and think you must’ve gained weight. Why? The scale hasn’t moved. You know that you are not heavier, yet you just feel that way.
About a year ago, I started paying attention to how I was feeling and I started to wonder if there was a pattern to it. I knew that I was not gaining any weight–if anything I have a hard time keeping weight on and not losing it unnecessarily. I also had determined that even though it was most likely in my head, my clothes felt a little off–not tight–just not normal.
So with that in mind I started making notes. At first I didn’t pay attention to the exact day or moment that I felt this way but I did make note that it definitely was one or two days each month. A few months later I recognized that I felt this way within days of starting my period. It actually became just as predictable as my monthly visitor. Yay me. 🙂
The question then became, why do I feel fat once a month when I am far from fat?
Apparently I am just experiencing PMS. Although this may not be news to many of you, it was a change for me. Or maybe it is just that the older I get, the more in tune I become with myself and my body.
I know there are several symptoms that are associated with PMS, but I have always mentally thought of those who experience PMS as moody, cranky, and crappy–which is something I never experience. Seriously, ask my friends, I am not at all cranky during that time of the month. I have always prided myself in not being irritable like so many other women. So now that I am 35, am I going to start experiencing the symptoms and behaviors that are described on so many semi-offensive t-shirts and bumper stickers? They only way I am going to be able to handle this is if I accept the fact the PMS is much more than being moody and cranky.
What are the symptoms of PMS? The most common symptoms include: mood swings, breast soreness, increased hunger and thirst, bloating, acne, cravings for certain foods and fatigue . Other symptoms may include constipation or diarrhea, irritability, and feeling blue or down in the dumps. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms during the week before your period starts and go away when your period arrives or a few days later, you may have PMS.
I know, big news, right? Well for some of us who have never experienced this, YES, it is.
My next question was, how do I get rid of it? I want nothing to do with feeling this way and if I start showing more signs of PMS, I may freak out. Seriously I want nothing to do with that label.
Before I could answer that question, I had to better understand what causes it and why would I be experiencing symptoms as I get older. Of course I can ask the doctor when I go next week, which again we all know how badly I am dreading that (see “What’s Your Excuse?”), but really I want to know now.
Apparently just before your period comes (up to two weeks prior), progesterone and estrogen levels drop. It is believed that these changes in hormone levels result in PMS. But wait, there’s more. It is also believed that certain behaviors and actions can lessen the severity of symptoms felt. Now this is the answer I was looking for–and here are the possible solutions I found.
- Eat less sugar and fat. Your body may be craving these types of foods but your instead of making you feel better they actually make you feel worse.
- Drink lots of water. This is good for you all of the time but during this time of the month it is particularly important.
- Cut back sodium intake. At least a few days prior you should decrease your salt intake. It will help decrease the bloating and lower the amount of fluid your body retains.
- Lower the amount of caffeine you ingest. Although this doesn’t affect me now, you never know later. But by lowering your caffeine levels you increase your ability to relax and ease irritability.
- Increase your calcium. Research shows that getting 1300 mg of calcium per day decreases the symptoms associated with PMS. So take that supplement or drink up your glass of milk. Maybe my soy chai latte is not so bad for me after all. 🙂
- Rest. It is important to get the sleep you need every night. A lack of sleep will simply increase your irritability and does not refresh your body.
- Exercise. Exercising regularly helps you in so many ways. Not only does it make you mentally feel better about yourself, it improves you physically and now it decreases your PMS symptoms. I guess that is another thing to add to the motivation list (“What Motivates You to Exercise”).
- Avoid alcohol. This one is huge if you are prone to depression. Drinking alcohol will only add to your depressed mood.
- Avoid stressful situations. I know that many things that stress us out are unexpected and unavoidable, however, if you know that something is going to be stressful avoid it. Schedule those stressful events for another time.
I am sure there is also medicine that can be taken but that is something I am not interested in. However if that is you, talk to your doctor. I just prefer to do things naturally.
I am glad to know that there is a logical explanation for the irrational feelings I experience each month. Maybe now I can try some of the above mentioned suggestions and resolve my issue. In the meantime I will let you know if the doctor sheds any new light on the subject.
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